Cj O’Neill & Alice Kettle: Lecture & Workshop – 25/03/15

Words and Images: Lauren Taylor

The morning’s lecture was available for all students, and was an introduction to narratives, and how they can transform and inform the creative process.

Alice Kettle began the lecture, with a brief overview of her practice and how she uses thread to tell a story. She showed the students projects she has been part of and how she uses materials as a means of communication, encouraging people to listen and understand their language. She also discussed her involvement with the Pairings Project at Manchester Metropolitan University, set up to explore the potential of collaborative creative practice. Displaying examples of how collaboration can enrich a narrative, bringing together different skills, characters and concepts.

Next, Cj O’Neill explained how narratives have driven her practice forward, telling personal stories and finding value in everyday ceramics. Cj’s work revolves around interaction with others, creating relationships with people, connecting with personal stories and responding to communities. She highlighted the importance of documentation, using photography as a dialogue of your practice – all things the students need to consider during their projects.

The workshop ran after the lecture, for 16 students who had signed up to partake. Each student had been asked to bring in an object that was significant to them; Cj and Alice had also brought in an array of ceramic and textile objects for the students to work with to create their narratives.

objects brought in by students

Several tasks were set, from creating narratives using the material of the object to impact the story, to using the people who may have used, owned or made the objects as an influence. The students really engaged with the tasks and clearly really enjoyed the process, some of the stories created were really playful and it was interesting to see how they used the objects and the materials provided to visually portray their ideas.

It went in about 30 different directions because we had so many ideas!

Finally, using each other’s personal objects, they individually created a narrative, this time the students had to consider the feelings of the person who the object belonged to, forcing them to question why this specific object was precious to somebody.

students display their work

The workshop really made the students think about how we value objects and how one object can mean so little to one person yet mean the world to another. Now they need to take what they have learnt in the workshop, and decide how they are going to let it influence their projects for The Whitworth.


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